Black Swan: The psychological thriller that allows audiences to delve into the world of fine arts

By Justin Sillner
January 13, 2011

Ballet is known for it’s beauty and gracefulness. The ability to move with confidence and projection without any flaw is the goal for any performer. In the new movie, “Black Swan,” the strive for perfection will push a young performer to be perfect by any means that she can.

Ballet is a dance that requires a lot of dedication, enduring practices and strenuous physical discipline. For all of the hard work, the end product is very rewarding.

From the director, Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan” focuses on a young performer, Nina Sayers, portrayed by Natalie Portman. Sayers is a hard-working dancer and finds the opportunity to dance in the ballet classic, “Swan Lake.”

The artistic director of the New York City Ballet Company, Thomas Leroy, portrayed by Vincent Cassel, pushes Nina to her highest potential. He uses sexuality to direct Nina through her dancing. Although her dancing is perfectly timed, practiced and well thought through, Nina is lacking the emotional connection to her dancing that could later inspire audiences. Thomas tells Nina to perfect her dance, to let impulse and flaw into it.

Nina is a timid, uptight, prim and polished individual, which made her a perfect choice for the White Swan. Her downfall? A history of constant scratching, an act caused from a belief of her own imperfections. She lives with her retired ballerina mother, Erica, portrayed by Barbara Hershey, who heavily supports her daughter’s career. Thomas finds that Nina, although perfect for the White Swan, is having difficulties mastering the Black Swan, which represents a darker image.

Thomas points out the newest member of the company, Lily, portrayed by Mila Kunis. Thomas suggests that Lily is more seductive and devious, more like the Black Swan. Thomas’s talk of Lily’s seductiveness is to trigger Nina to loosen up and to imply possible competition for her.

Nina sees Lily as a rival but also as the key to finding out what she has to do to perfect the Black Swan. An easy-going Lily tells Nina she needs to simply relax. The two expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship. Soon, Nina begins to become more in touch with her dark side losing all grasp on reality, going through a wild night of partying, drugs and imaginative girl on girl with Lily.

She finds herself stopping at nothing to be perfect. Nina finds freedom within self-destruction and loses herself to find perfection for her role in the production.

Aronofsky directs a without-a-doubt masterpiece. His vision of the ballet company may be close to unrealistic but he creates a story of determination and insanity through his twisted visuals, sounds and precise editing. Aronofsky has also directed Golden Globe winner, “The Wrestler,” and is working on two new titles, “The Wolverine” and “Machine Man.”

Portman delivers an amazing performance playing both the villain and the victim. She takes us into Nina’s head and makes us feel what she is thinking. The audience will follow the steps of Nina’s journey from being an ambitious young ballerina to a crazy woman striving to be the perfect performer.

Aronofsky helps show the audience the paranoia and the rising insanity in Nina’s character. The movie’s final scene is that of the opening night performance of “Swan Lake.” Nina pulls off an equal mix of both the White Swan and the Black Swan and delivers a memorable performance; one that you could say is perfect.

The film also stars Winona Ryder, Sebastian Stan and Benjamin Millepied.

Black Swan” is nominated for four Golden Globe Awards including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture.  The film is also nominated for 12 Critic’s Choice Awards, more that any movie in history.

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Justin Sillner

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